Books for the News

How Dr. Seuss invented childhood

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If you’ve tried to “Google” anything recently you’ve probably noticed that they’ve once again transformed their logo. This time, in honor of the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel aka Dr. Seuss, born 105 years ago today. From The Cat in the Hat, to Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Suess’s titles have become some of the most the iconic children’s books of the twentieth century, influencing generations of readers, and ranked among the best selling children’s books of all time. Indeed, with such widespread popularity, as the NYT‘s A.O. Scott once wrote “with Starbellied Sneetches and blibber-blubber verse, Dr. Seuss invented the modern idea of childhood.”
Enter Seth Lerer’s, Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter—a fascinating book that looks at the history of such children’s books as inseparable from the history of childhood itself, examining their profound influence on everything from family life and human growth, schooling and scholarship, to publishing and politics. In the only single-volume work to capture the rich and diverse history of children’s literature in its full panorama, Lerer explores how children are indelibly molded by the tales they hear and read—stories they will one day share with their own sons and daughters—in an exhilarating quest across centuries, continents, and genres to discover how, and why, we first fall in love with the written word.
Read an excerpt.